My husband is a pastaholic and could eat pasta every day and not tire of it. Although I too love pasta, I do like to switch things up and can enjoy a pasta-free meal. With all the varieties of pasta available along with the unlimited number of sauces one can make, you could easily eat pasta every day for a year and never eat the same dish twice!
Because I am cooking pasta so often for my husband, I am always looking for new recipes to try. I was browsing through the cookbook Adriatico, written by Paola Bacchia and came across a unique pasta dish that has a very different type of sauce. The sauce includes ground walnuts, vincotto, a little balsamic vinegar and just a touch of breadcrumbs to bind the sauce together. I have had a bottle of vincotto that I brought back from Italy with me last year and thought that this would be a great way to finally use this condiment.
If you are not familiar with it, vincotto (translated as “cooked wine”) is a dark, sweet, thick paste produced by several wine regions in Italy. It is made by slow cooking and reducing non-fermented grape must for many hours, until it has been reduced to about one-fifth of its original volume and the sugars have caramelized.
Vincotto has an earthy, sweet flavor, and is not a form of vinegar, though a sweet vinegar version can be produced using a vincotto as a base. You can find a link to buy vincotto in the linki under the recipe below.
I adapted the recipe by first toasting the walnuts, and then by adding some cooked sausage meat to the nuts before grinding them, which gave the sauce a little more body. The sauce is made by adding enough hot pasta water to the pesto-like walnut and sausage mixture.
The completed sauce has a very subtle sweetness, that is balanced by the earthiness of the toasted walnuts and sausage. I used ziti pasta for my version, but any short pasta shape will work well in this recipe. Grated cheese completes the dish and also balances the sweetness of the vincotto. I prefer Pecorino Romano over Parmesan cheese, but either will work just fine.
- 3/4 Pound Dried Short Pasta (I Used Ziti)
- 2 Cups Walnuts
- 2 Tablespoons Coarse Breadcrumbs
- 1 Cups Cooked Sausage Meat Removed From Casings
- 1/3 Cup Vincotto (See Notes Above)
- 1 Teaspoon Aged Balsamic Vinegar
- 4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepp-er To Taste
- Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and bake until fragrant, about 10 minutes.
- Cool to room temperature.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
- While the water is heating, place the walnuts, breadcrumbs, sausage meat, vincotto, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil in a food processor and pulse until combined with the mixture retaining texture.
- Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Cook the pasta until it is "al dente", then drain, retaining a cup of the pasta water.
- Return the pasta to the pot along with the walnut mixture and half the pasta water.
- Stir to mix over high heat, adding enough extra pasta water to create a creamy sauce.
- Serve the pasta immediately in individual bowls, passing the grated cheese at the table.
Adapted from Adriatico Pasta Sapa e Noci.
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Vincotto (Original) by Gianni Calogiuri - Original (250 ml)
Giuseppe Giusti Calamaio di Vittoria Italian Balsamic Vinegar Made in Modena, Italy - Family Reserve Piccole Donne - Gourmet, Cask Aged 50ml Bottle of Premium Balsamic Vinegar
Sweese 1309 Porcelain Salad/Pasta Bowls - 22 Ounce - Set of 6, White
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 865Total Fat: 77gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 56gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 997mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 4gSugar: 3gProtein: 30g